Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Original Christmas Classics Blu-ray Review

Release Date: Oct. 12th, 2010
Disc 1 Size: 8.12 GB
Disc 2 Size: 13.6 GB
Disc 3 Size: 12.6 GB
Region: A
The Video
Frosty the Snowman,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ debut on Blu-ray with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations. The films have been digitally remastered, which isn’t always a good thing or an improvement, but they definitely improve upon the DVD releases I have in my collection.

These specials premiered between 1964 and 1970 and the material definitely looks aged with scratches and dirt popping up, although nowhere as bad as it could have been. Colors are presented nicely, rich and vibrant in all three films.

At times the video quality is a bit soft, so we don’t get to appreciate the fine details of the characters and environments, but when a scene allows it looks pretty fantastic. The textures of certain characters and their felt looking clothing were impressive to see.

‘Frosty the Snowman’ is the animated special and benefits nicely from a high-def transfer as well, with solid character outlines and fantastic clarity. The film looks very strong on Blu-ray, but the animation lines did jitter very briefly during quick sequences. The issue isn’t overly annoying, but it is noticeable.

‘The Original Christmas Classics’ overall look very good on Blu-ray. Could they have been better? Yes. A more extensive cleanup would have made for an even more impressive presentation for all three, but the remastering done is very respectable and actually presents colors accurately for the first time (that blue coat was always green). 7.5/10

The Audio
Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ feature English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio tracks. They also include English 2.0 Stereo, Spanish and French Mono tracks. ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town!’ features an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track, as well as an English 2.0 Stereo and Spanish Mono track.

I am very grateful that Classic Media included a lossless track for each special and they all sound great. Surround use is present on each, but it is minimal, as expected and as it should be. The source material appears to be in pretty good condition, with hiss kept to a minimum.

Dialogue is presented front and center, and is always easy to understand. The sound effects are more front heavy, but do make surround use appearances on occasion. Overall I am very happy with all three mixes. They are far from the best mixes on Blu-ray, but considering the age of these specials I doubt they could be much better. 7.5/10

The Extras

Disc 1 (Frosty) (8.12 GB):

Frosty Returns (22:58) (SD)
The animated sequel is included in standard-definition, looking at the material it looks like it was never produced in high-definition to begin with, which is likely why it isn’t included in high-def. Either way, it is a welcome addition.

Disc 2 (Rudolph) (13.6 GB):

No extras are included for ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’

Disc 3 (Santa) (12.6 GB):

No extras are included for ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.’

Disc 4 (CD):

The Original Christmas Classics Songs on CD
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Jingle Bells
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
There aren’t many extras included, but the CD addition was a nice surprise as it isn’t advertised on the packaging. The ‘Frosty Returns’ special isn’t great, but is also a welcome addition. All three specials are packaged in a slip box in individual Blu-ray cases. 3/10

The Films
The Original Christmas Classics’ are now on Blu-ray, and to be honest I didn’t expect to see them on the Blu-ray format yet (especially considering how many films have NOT released on Blu-ray yet). Classic Media has included ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ in the collection and all three are holiday favorites.

The Rankin/Bass holiday specials still air on a yearly basis on television, but there many younger audiences who have never seen these specials. I love this set as it is a perfect way to introduce your children, your young relatives or perhaps friends to these holiday classics.

The stop-motion classics ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’ are the strongest of the three films included. All three actually hold up very well, especially ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’
‘Frosty the Snowman’ does suffer a bit in comparison, with a fairly strong story which just falls a bit short of the others when it comes to heart. It would have been interesting to see if the film was produced via stop-motion rather than hand-drawn animation.

Overall this is a fantastic collection and I suspect even the youngest of audiences will embrace these holiday classics. I shared this collection with a nephew of mine who had never seen them and he loved all three of them. 9/10

The Blu-news Summary
The Original Christmas Classics’ is a great collection with respectable video and audio presentations. There aren’t many extras, but there never were in the past, but the CD is a nice addition. Overall this collection on Blu-ray is ‘Highly Recommended’ to any fan of these specials as they have never looked or sounded better.

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